Ousmane Dembele ran Real Sociedad ragged at the Camp Nou and sent Barcelona into the Spanish Cup semi-finals with a brilliant second half goal.
Xavi's team were helped by miss of the season from Real Sociedad striker Alexander Sorloth, and by Brais Mendes’ foolish first half sending off. But with the Basques standing firm in defence despite the numerical disadvantage some magic was still required and the France winger provided it.
When Dembele is really on form, he’s off the scale unplayable.
Ousmane Dembele's second-half goal was enough to send Barcelona through to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey
The Frenchman's goal came after Brais Mendez was sent off for Real Sociedad in the first-half
He has none of the goalscoring reliability or consistency of another of Barça’s flying Frenchman, Thierry Henry, but he has even more va-va-voom and when he sprinted clear of the Real Sociedad defence seven minutes into the second half to lash the ball past Alex Remiro it was enough to make even his biggest critics forget the lapses of concentration and misplaced passes that sometimes litter his game.
Kounde’s ball over the top sent him clear. He had held his run well to stay on side. His first touch sent the ball a long way ahead of him but he is so quick he was on to it in a hearbeat and with his second touch he lashed the ball past Remiro beating him at his near post.
The keeper waved an arm at the rocket shot but couldn’t stop it. The obvious option had been a cross to Robert Lewandowski but not to Dembele – a law unto himself for better and worse and in this most important of games for Barcelona it was worth a place in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
Dembele's winner was worth a place in the Copa del Rey semi-finals as the Frenchman ran Sociedad ragged
Dembele, who caused havoc all night, received a standing ovation by the Camp Nou when substituted late on
When he was taken off on 83 minutes he was given a standing ovation by the Camp Nou. Barça by then should have been well clear of Real Sociedad but somehow the score was still 1-0. It stayed that way as Barça went through.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men four minutes before half time when Mendes got carried away and was ordered off. He went over the ball on Sergio Busquets who had just fouled Kubo. At first it looked as though he would escape with a yellow but when Jesus Gil went to take a second look pitchside the kick to Busquets' elbow was clear and the midfielder was off.
Real Sociedad went to a back five for the second half and with Kubo superb against his former club there was hope. He hit a free-kick into the wall and drew foul from Pedri for which the midfielder saw a yellow. And it was Kubo who set up miss of the night – miss of the season maybe.
The Japan international fizzed the ball across the six-yard box and from three yards Sorloth – who has been so outstanding all season – somehow managed to spoon the ball over the bar. Kubo deserved more from the night. He had hit the bar in the first half in a rare Real Sociedad chance as Barça dominated even before the sending off.
But it was Dembele’s tie. Just before being taken off he drifted past two more Real Sociedad defenders on the edge of the area but Remiro saved his shot. He also went past Munoz and pulled the ball back to Gavi who flashed his shot onto the crossbar.
‘La Real’ refused to go quietly and when Ter Stegen gifted the ball to them late on it was played quickly to Robert Navarro only for the substitute to put the ball wide.
The German keeper made amends two minutes into injury time when he pushed away Jon Ander Olasagasti’s shot to avoid extra time.